November 30, 2011

Leaving China: The Great Wall

Our final day as a group in China was crisp and relatively clear.  We headed out by bus to the Jinshanling section of the fabled Great Wall.  This section is located in Hebei Province, about 130 km outside of Beijing.  Although a wall existed here at least as early as the 14th century, most of the stretch we visited dates to around 1570.  Contrary to the original intent of the wall (to keep the barbarians out), we found an immediate welcome by local residents—hoping to sell us souvenirs, but willing to help us find the easiest walking routes even if we weren’t good customers.  The ascent we chose was a recently designed gradual, paved slope.  This enabled us to reach the wall easily and with plenty of stamina to clamber up and down the many steps that awaited us as we progressed along the ridge.  The local people who accompanied us, were the only people besides us we saw during our several-hour walk.  Each of us took our own pace.    Readers of this blog will soon, perhaps have already had, opportunity to begin asking us directly what thoughts we had from this impressive vantage point, looking towards and away from our months in China.

After sharing a delicious, but (sadly) not Sichuanese, final meal together, our group settled down for a final night’s rest.  Early Tuesday morning, Nov. 29, about half our group left for the airport to return home.  The other half remained behind for a few more days of individual travel in China and/or northeast Asia.  We hope you will find us all returned home safely before long.  Which ones of us will return to China?  How soon?

Postscript: We have heard that the group of students who traveled directly back to Goshen has arrived safely.  This represents the final entry in our 2011 China SST blog series.  Joe & Jo-Ann want to thank student photographers who willingly shared many photos for use on the blog during this semester.  Emily & Chelsea were particularly generous (and had better cameras than did we).  If you remember a particularly nice shot, chances are one of them was responsible for it.  Other students shared shared photographs here and there and we thank them as well.

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